Friday, February 03, 2006
 
But They Told Me That I Could Remove this 1962 Letter From My File!


Contract implementation woes continue as the DOE demonstrates that what appears teacher friendly in the contract is, in essence, an illusion. Remember when our trusted UFT Leaders told us how we won the right to have derogatory material removed from our personnel files that was over three years old?

Great win, right?

Wrong.

As appears in the following memo to principals by the DOE’s Labor Relations office these letters will not be destroyed but will be sent to another office. Isn’t it wonderful how great this new contract is at protecting our rights? Thanks, Randi.

Here is the text of the memo:

UFT Contract Implementation: Guidance on Material in File

As you are probably aware, the new collective bargaining agreement with the UFT has eliminated material in file grievances and gives educators represented by UFT the right to remove material in file after three years if they do not lead to further discipline. This provision takes effect immediately. If you receive a grievance challenging any material in file, e.g. an unsatisfactory observation or a disciplinary letter for attendance problems or misconduct, you should respond to the chapter leader that you will not hear the grievance, but the staff member may append a written response to the letter before it is placed in the personnel file. With a few exceptions, only material in file arbitrations scheduled for January will go forward and any material in file grievance currently at steps 1, 2 or 3 will be discontinued.

As a part of the agreement, any letter placed in a teacher’s or other UFT represented employee’s personnel file: 1) which is 3 years old or older and; 2) has not been used in a disciplinary proceeding (3020-a charges, discontinuances or U-ratings), shall be removed from the employee’s file. Three years is measured from the date the letter was placed in the employee’s file (which should be the date the employee signed the letter or administration indicated he reused to sign). Note, the rule regarding removing letters from the file after three years does not apply to non-UFT titles, such as school aides or family workers.

Teachers or other UFT represented employees who wish to have a letter removed from their file pursuant to the new agreement should follow the current procedures for viewing their personnel file by making an appointment with the principal or his/her designee when the principal or designee is available. The employee will be permitted to view his/her personnel file in the presence of the principal or designee. Employees may identify any letter that has been in their file for 3 years or longer (e.g. by marking it with a Post-it). The supervisor should remove the letter from the file if he or she knows that the letter has not resulted in further disciplinary action, such as 3020a charges, a discontinuance, an unsatisfactory rating, or a suspension and confirms that it is 3 years old or more. Copies should be made of all the documents to be removed and the employee should be given the originals. The records will be kept in a central repository and maintained under the control of the New York City Law Department (see instructions on shipping the letters to the repository below). They will be used solely in defense of the Department of Education or the City of New York in litigation or administrative actions and as otherwise required by law, and DOE supervisors will not have access to them. The records will be destroyed 6 years after an individual retires, resigns or terminates. If the records are accessed, the UFT will receive notice.

If the supervisor does not know whether the letter resulted in further disciplinary action (e.g. if a principal is new to the school), he/she should inquire of his/her regional counsel so this can be investigated.

Although material in file grievances have ended, principals should, as good management practice, continue to follow the guidelines in the Office of Labor Relations Labor FAQ for letter writing. For example, you should meet with the employee prior to writing a disciplinary letter or lesson observation to discuss the issues prior to coming to a conclusion. Please see this section of Labor FAQs on letter writing by clicking here.

For general inquiries contact Dan McCray (dmccray@nycboe.net) or David Brodsky (dbrodsky@nycboe.net) with the Office of Labor Relations.

Instructions on Shipment of Documents

Copies of the file letters should be placed in manila folders with the employee’s last name, first name, social security and file number, district number and school name and number. If there are more than 50 folders at a site, they should be placed in a box, which you can order by e-mailing Angie Russo at arusso4@nycboe.net. Each box should have an official archive label on it listing the contents by teacher file number. You can obtain the labels from the DFO Web Site at http://www.nycenet.edu/Offices/DFO/BusinessOperations/DoeRecordsArchiving/Default.htm. The regular vendor for inter-office mail, Deluxe Delivery Services, will pick up all boxes and file packages for delivery to the central repository.


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